The American


NEWMAN possessed a remarkable talent for sitting still when it was necessary, and he had an opportunity to use it on his journey to Switzerland. The Successive hours of the night brought him no sleep; but he sat motionless in his corner of the railway-carriage, with his eyes closed, and the most observant of his fellow - travelers might have envied him his apparent slumber. Toward morning slumber really came, as an effect of mental rather than of physical fatigue. He slept, for a couple of hours, and at last, waking, found his eyes resting upon one of the snow-powdered peaks of the Jura, behind which the sky was just reddening with the dawn. But he saw neither the cold mountain nor the warm sky; his consciousness began to throb again, on the very instant, with a sense of his wrong. He got out of the train half an hour before it reached Geneva, in the cold morning twilight, at the station indicated in Valentin’s telegram. A drowsy station-master was on the platform with a lantern, and the hood of his overcoat over his head, and near him stood a gentleman who advanced to meet Newman. This personage was a man of forty, with a tall, lean figure, a sallow face, a dark eye, a neat moustache, and a pair of fresh gloves. He took off his hat, looking very grave, and pronounced Newman’s name. Our hero assented and said, “ You are M. de Bellegarde’s friend? ”

“ I unite with you in claiming that sad honor,” said the gentleman. “I had placed myself at M. de Bellegarde’s service in this melancholy affair, together with M. de Grosjoyaux, who is now at his bedside. M. de Grosjoyaux, I believe, has had the honor of meeting yon in Paris, but as he is a better nurse than I he remained with our poor friend. Bellegarde has been eagerly expecting you.”

“ And how is Bellegarde? ” said Newman. “ He was badly bit? ”

“ The doctor has condemned him; we brought a surgeon with us. But he will die in the best sentiments. I sent last evening for the curé of the nearest French village, who spent an hour with him. The cure was quite satisfied.”

“ Heaven forgive us! ” groaned Newman. “ I would rather the doctor were satisfied! And can he see me, — will he know me ? ”

“ When I left him, half an hour ago, he had fallen asleep, after a feverish, wakeful night. But we shall see.” And Newman’s companion proceeded to lead the way out of the station to the village, explaining as he went that the little party was lodged in the humblest of Swiss inns, where, however, they had succeeded in making M. de Bellegarde much more comfortable than could at first have been expected. “ We are old companions in arms,” said Valentin’s second; “it is not the first time that one of us has helped the other to he easily. It is a very nasty wound, and the nastiest thing about it is that Bellegarde’s adversary was no shot. He put his bullet where he could. It took it into its head to walk straight into Bellegarde’s left side, just below the heart.”

As they picked their way in the gray, deceptive dawn, between the manure heaps of the village street, Newman’s new acquaintance narrated the particulars of the duel. The conditions of the meeting had been that if the first exchange of shots should fail to satisfy one of the two gentlemen, a second should take place. Valentin’s first bullet had done exactly what Newman’s .companion was convinced he had intended it to do; it had grazed the arm of M. Stanislas Kapp, just scratching the flesh. M. Kapp’s own projectile, meanwhile, had passed at ten good inches from the person of Valentin. The representatives of M. Stanislas had demanded another shot, which was granted. Valentin had then fired aside and the young Alsatian had done effective execution. “I saw, when we met him on the ground,” said Newman’s informant, “ that he was not going to be commode. It is a kind of bovine temperament.” Valentin had immediately been installed at the inn, and M. Stanislas and his friends had withdrawn to regions unknown. The police authorities of the canton had waited upon the party at the inn, had been extremely majestic, and had drawn up a long procès-verbal; but it was probable that they would wink at so very gentlemanly a hit of bloodshed. Newman asked whether a message had not been sent to Valentin’s family, and learned that up to a late hour on the preceding evening Valentin had opposed it. He had refused to believe his wound was dangerous. But after his interview with the curé he had consented, and a telegram had been dispatched to his mother. “ But the marquise had better hurry!” said Newman’s conductor.

“Well, it’s an abominable affair!” said Newman. “ That’s all I have got to say! ” To say this, at least, in a tone of infinite disgust, was an irresistible need.

“ All, you don’t approve? ” questioned his conductor, with curious urbanity.

“Approve?” cried Newman. “I wish that when I had him there, night before last, I had locked him up in my cabinet de toilette !

Valentin’s late second opened his eyes, and shook his head up and down two or three times, gravely, with a little flutelike whistle. But they had reached the inn, and a stout maid-servant in a nightcap was at the door with a lantern, to take Newman’s traveling-bag from the porter who trudged behind him. Valentin was lodged on the ground-floor at the back of the house, and Newman’s companion went along a stone-faced passage and softly opened a door. Then he beckoned to Newman, who advanced and looked into the room, which was lighted by a single shaded candle. Beside the fire sat M. de Grosjoyaux asleep in his dressing-gown, — a little plump, fair man whom Newman had seen several times in Valentin’s company. On the bed lay Valentin, pale and still, with his eyes closed —a figure very shocking to Newman, who had seen it hitherto awake to its finger tips. M. de Grosjoyaux’s colleague pointed to an open door beyond, and whispered that the doctor was within, keeping guard. So long as Valentin slept, or seemed to sleep, of course Newman could not approach him; so our hero withdrew for the present, committing himself to the care of the halfwaked bonne. She took him to a room above-stairs, and introduced him to a bed on which a magnified bolster, in yellow calico, figured as a counterpane. Newman lay down, and, in spite of his counterpane, slept for three or four hours. When he awoke, the morning was advanced and the sun was filling his window, and he heard, outside of it, the clucking of hens. While he was dressing there came to his door a messenger from M. de Grosjoyaux and his companion, proposing that he should breakfast with them. Presently he went downstairs to the little stone-paved diningroom, where the maid-servant, who had taken off her night-cap, was serving the repast. M. de Grosjoyaux was there, surprisingly fresh for a gentleman who had been playing sick - nurse half the night, rubbing his hands and watching the breakfast table attentively. Newman renewed acquaintance with him, and learned that Valentin was still sleeping; the surgeon, who had had a fairly tranquil night, was at present sitting with him. Before M. de Grosjoyaux’s associate reappeared, Newman learned that his name was M. Ledaux, and that Bellegarde’s acquaintance with him dated from the days when they served together in the Pontifical Zouaves. M. Ledaux was the nephew of a distinguished Ultramontane bishop. At last the bishop’s nephew came in with a toilet in which an ingenious attempt at harmony with the peculiar situation was visible, and with a gravity tempered by a decent deference to the best breakfast that the Croix Helvétique had ever set forth. Valentin’s servant, who was allowed only in scanty measure the honor of watching with his master, had been lending a light Parisian hand in the kitchen. The two Frenchmen did their best to prove that if circumstances might overshadow, they could not really obscure, the national talent for conversation, and M. Ledaux delivered a neat little eulogy on poor Bellegarde, whom he pronounced the most daring Englishman he had ever known.

“ Do you call him an Englishman? ” Newman asked.

M. Ledaux smiled a moment and then made an epigram. “ C'est plus qu'un Anglais — c’est un Anglomane! ” Newman said sombrely that he had never noticed it; and M. de Grosjoynux remarked that it was really too soon to deliver a funeral oration upon poor Bellegarde. “ Evidently.” said M. Ledaux. “But I couldn’t help observing this morning to Mr. Newman, that when a man has taken such excellent measures for his salvation as our dear friend did last evening, it seems almost a pity he should put it in peril again by returning to the world.” M. Ledaux was a great Catholic, and Newman thought him a queer mixture. His countenance, by daylight, had a sort of amiably saturnine cast; he had a very large thin nose, and looked like a Spanish picture. He appeared to think dueling a very perfect arrangement, provided, if one should get hit, one could promptly see the priest. He seemed to take a great satisfaction in Valentin’s interview with the curé, and yet his conversation did not at all indicate a sanctimonious habit of mind. M. Ledaux had evidently a high sense of the becoming, and was prepared to be urbane and tasteful on all points, He was always furnished with a smile (which pushed his moustache up under his nose) and an explanation. Savoir - vivre — knowing how to live — was his specialty, in which he included knowing how to die; but, as Newman reflected, with a good deal of dumb irritation, he seemed disposed to delegate to others the application of his learning on this latter point. M. de Grosjoyaux was of quite another complexion, and seemed to regard his friend’s theological unction as the sign of an inaccessibly superior mind. He was evidently doing his utmost, with a kind of jovial tenderness, to make life agreeable to Valentin to the last, and help him as little as possible to miss the Boulevard des Italians; but what chiefly occupied his mind was the mystery of a bungling brewer’s son making so neat a shot. He himself could snuff a candle, etc., and yet he confessed that he could not have done better than this, He hastened to add that on the present occasion he would have made a point of not well. It was not an occasion for that sort of murderous work, que diable ! He would have picked out some quiet fleshy spot, and just tapped it with a harmless ball. M. Stanislas Kapp had been deplorably heavy-handed; but really, when the world had come to that pass that one granted a meeting to a brewer’s son! . . . This was M. de Grosjoyaux’s nearest approach to a generalization. He kept looking through the window, over the shoulder of M. Ledaux, at a slender tree which stood at the end of a lane, opposite to the inn, and seemed to be measuring its distance from his extended arm and secretly wishing that, since the subject had been introduced, propriety did not forbid a little speculative pistol-practice.

Newman was in no humor to enjoy good company. He could neither eat nor talk; his soul was sore with grief and anger, and the weight of his double sorrow was intolerable. He sat with his eyes fixed upon his plate, counting the minutes, wishing at one moment that Valentin would see him and leave him free to go in quest of Madame de Cintré and his lost happiness, and mentally calling himself a vile brute the next, for the impatient egotism of the wish, He was very poor company, himself, and even his acute preoccupation and his general lack of the habit of pondering the impression he produced did not prevent him from reflecting that his companions must be puzzled to see how poor Bellegarde came to take such a fancy to this taciturn Yankee that he must needs have him at his death-bed. After breakfast he strolled forth alone into the village, and looked at the fountain, the geese, the open barn doors, the brown, bent old women, showing their hugely darned stocking-heels at the ends of their slowly-clicking sabots, and the beautiful view of snowy Alp and purple Jura at either end of the little street. The day was brilliant; early spring was in the air and in the sunshine, and the winter’s damp was trickling out of the cottage eaves. It was birth and brightness for all nature, even for chirping chickens and waddling goslings, and it was to be death and burial for poor, foolish, generous, delightful Bellegarde. Newman walked as far as the village church, and went into the small graveyard beside it, where he sat down and looked at the awkward tablets which were planted around. They were all sordid and hideous, and Newman could feel nothing but the hardness and coldness of death. He got up and came back to the inn, where he found M. Ledaux having coffee and a cigarette at a little green table which he had caused to be carried into the small garden. Newman, learning that the doctor was still sitting with Valentin, asked M. Ledaux if he might not be allowed to relieve him; he had a great desire to be useful to his poor friend. This was easily arranged; the doctor was very glad to go to bed. He was a youthful and rather jaunty practitioner, but he had a clever face, and the ribbon of the Legion of Honor in his button-hole; Newman listened attentively to the instructions he gave him before retiring, and took mechanically from his hand a small volume which the surgeon recommended as a help to wakefulness, and which turned out to be an old copy of Faublas. Valentin was still lying with his eyes closed, and there was no visible change in his condition. Newman sat down near him, and for a long time narrowly watched him. Then his eyes wandered away with his thoughts upon his own situation, and rested upon the chain of the Alps, disclosed by the drawing of the scant, white cotton curtain of the window, through which the sunshine passed and lay in squares upon the red-tiled floor. He tried to interweave his reflections with hope, but he only half succeeded. What had happened to him seemed to have, in its violence and audacity, the force of a real calamity — the strength and insolence of Destiny herself. It was unnatural and monstrous, and he had no arms against it. At last a sound struck upon the stillness, and he heard Valentin’s voice.

“ It can’t be about me you are pulling that long face!” He found, when he turned, that Valentin was lying in the same position, but his eyes were open, and he was even trying to smile. It was with a very slender strength that he returned the pressure of Newman’s hand. “ I have been watching you for a quarter of an hour,” Valentin went on; “ you have been looking as black as thunder. You arc greatly disgusted with me, I see. Well, of course! So am I! ”

“ Oh, I shall not scold you,” said Newman. " I feel too badly. And how are you getting on? ”

“ Oh, I’m getting off! They have quite settled that; have n’t they? ”

“That’s for you to settle; you can get well if you try,” said Newman with resolute cheerfulness.

“My dear follow, how can I try? Trying is violent exercise, and that sort of thing is n’t in order for a man with a hole in his side as big as your hat, that, begins to bleed if he moves a hair’sbreadth. I knew you would come,” he continued; “ I knew I should wake up and find you here, so I’m not surprised. But last night I was very impatient. I did n’t see how I could keep still until you came. It was a matter of keeping still, just like this; as still as a mummy in his case. You talk about trying; I tried that! Well, here I am yet, — these twenty hours. It seems like twenty days.” Bellegarde talked slowly and feebly, hut distinctly enough. It was visible, however, that he was in extreme pain, and at last he closed his eyes. Newman begged him to remain silent and spare himself; the doctor had left urgent orders. “ Oh,” said Valentin, “let us eat and drink, for to-morrow — to-morrow ” —and he paused again. “No, not to-morrow, perhaps, but today. I can’t eat and drink, but I can talk. What’s to be gained, at this pass, by renun— renunciation? I mustn’t use such big words. I was always a chatterer; Lord, how I have talked in my day! ’ ’

“ That’s a reason for keeping quiet now,” said Newman. “ We know how well you talk, you know.”

But Valentin, without heeding him, went on in the same weak, dying drawl. “ I wanted to see you because you have seen my sister. Does she know—will she come ? ’ ’

Newman was embarrassed. “ Yes, by this time she must know.”

“Didn’t you tell her?” Valentin asked. And then, in a moment, “ Did n’t you bring me any message from her ? ” His eyes rested upon Newman’s with a certain soft keenness.

“ I didn’t see her after I got your telegram,” said Newman. “ I wrote to her.”

“ And she sent you no answer? ”

Newman was obliged to reply that Madame de Cintré had left Paris. “ She went yesterday to Fleurieres.”

“Yesterday — to Fleurières? Why did she go to Fleurières ? What day is this? What day was yesterday? Ah, then I shan’t see her,” said Valentin, sadly. “ Fleurières is too far ! ” And then he closed his eyes again. Newman sat silent, summoning pious invention to his aid, but he was relieved at finding that Valentin was apparently too weak to reason or to be curious. Bellegarde, however, presently went on. “ And my mother — and my brother—will they come? Are they at Fleurières? ”

“ They were in Paris, but I didn’t see them, either,” Newman answered. “ If they received your telegram in time they will have started this morning. Otherwise they will be obliged to wait for the night-express, and they will arrive at the same hour as I did.”

“ They won’t thank me — they won’t thank me,” Valentin murmured. “ They will pass an atrocious night, and Urbain does n’t like the early morning air. I don’t remember ever in my life to have seen him before noon — before breakfast. No one ever saw him. We don’t know how he is then. Perhaps he’s different. Who knows? Posterity, perhaps, will know. That’s the time he works, in his cabinet, at the history of the Princesses. But I had to send for them--had n’t I? And then I want to see my mother sit there where you sit, and say good-by to her. Perhaps, after all, I don’t know her, and she will have some surprise for me. Don’t think you know her yet, yourself; perhaps she may surprise you. But if I can’t see Claire, I don’t care for anything. I have been thinking of it — and in my dreams, too. Why did she go to Fleurières to-day ? She never told me. What has happened? Ah, she ought to have guessed I was here — this way. It is the first time in her life she ever disappointed me. Poor Claire! ”

“ You know we, are not man and wife quite yet, your sister and I,” said Newman. “ She does n’t yet account to me for all her actions.” And, after a fashion, he smiled.

Valentin looked at him a moment. “ Have you quarreled? ”

“ Never, never, never! ” Newman exclaimed.

“ How happily you say that! ” said Valentin. “ You are going to be happy — ba!” In answer to this stroke of irony, none the less powerful for being so unconscious, all poor Newman could do was to give a helplessand transparent stare. Valentin continued to fix him with his own rather over-bright gaze, and presently he said, “ But something is the matter with you. I watched you just now; you haven’t a bridegroom’s face.”

“ My dear fellow,” said Newman, “ how can I show you a bridegroom’s face? If you think I enjoy seeing you he there and not being able to help you ” —

“ Why, you are just the man to be cheerful; don’t forfeit, your rights! I’m a proof of your wisdom. When was a man ever gloomy when he could say ‘ I told you so? ’ You told me so, you know. You did what you could about it. You said some very good things;

I have thought them over. But, my dear friend, I was right, all the same. This is the regular way.”

“I didn't, do what I ought,” said Newman. “ I ought to have done something else.”

“ For instance ? ”

“ Oh, something or other. I ought to have treated you as a small boy.”

“ Well, I 'm a very small boy, now,” said Valentin. “ I 'm rather less than an Infant. An infant is helpless, but it ’s generally voted promising. I 'm not promising, eh? Society can’t lose a less valuable member.”

Newman was strongly moved. He got up and turned his back upon his friend and walked away to the window, where he stood looking out, but only vaguely seeing. “ No, I don’t like the look of your back,” Valentin continued. “ I have always been an observer of backs; yours is quite out of sorts.”

Newman returned to his bedside and begged him to be quiet. " Be quiet and get well,” he said. “ That’s what you must do. Get well and help me.”

“ I told you you were in trouble! How can I help you? ” Valentin asked.

“ I 'll let you know when you are better. You were always curious; there is something to get well for!” Newman answered, with resolute animation.

Valentin closed his eyes and lay a long time without speaking. He seemed even to have fallen asleep. But at the end of half an hour he began to talk again. " I am rather sorry about that place in the bank. Who knows hut that I might have become another Rothschild? But I was n't meant for a banker; bankers are not so easy to kill. Don’t you think I have been very easy to kill ? It’s not like a serious man. It’s really very mortifying, it’s like telling your hostess you must, go, when you count upon her begging you to stay, and then finding she does no such thing. ' Really — so soon ? You’ve only just come!' Life does n’t make me any such polite little speech.”

Newman for some time said nothing, but at last he broke out. “ It’s a bad case — it’s a bad ease — it’s the worst case I ever met. I don’t want to say anything unpleasant, but I can’t help it.

I’ve seen men dying before — and I’ve seen men shot. But it always seemed more natural; they were not so clever as you. Damnation — damnation ! You might have done something better than this. It’s about the meanest windingup of a man’s affairs that I can imagine! ”

Valentin feebly waved his hand to and fro. “Don’t insist — don’t insist! It is mean — decidedly mean. For you see at the bottom — down at the bottom, in a little place as small as the end of a winefunnel— I agree with you.”

A few moments after this the doctor put his head through the half-opened door, and, perceiving that Valentin was awake, came in and felt his pulse. He shook his head and declared that he had talked too much — ten times too much. “Nonsense!” said Valentin; “a man sentenced to death can never talk too much. Have you never read an account of an execution in a newspaper? Don’t they always set a lot of people at the prisoner, — lawyers, reporters, priests, — to make him talk? But it ’s not Mr. Newman’s fault; he; sits there as mum as a death’s-head.”

The doctor observed that it was time his patient’s wound should be dressed again; MM. de Grosjoyaux and Ledaux, who had already witnessed this delicate operation, taking Newman’s place as assistants. Newman withdrew and learned from his fellow-watchers that they had received a telegram from Or Urbain de Bellegarde to the effect that their message had been delivered in the Rue de l'Université too late to allow him to take the morning train, but that he would start, with his mother, in the evening. Newman wandered away into the village again, and walked about, restlessly, for two or three hours. The day seemed terribly long. At dusk he came back and dined with the doctor and M. Ledaux. The dressing of Valentin’s wound had been a very critical operation; the doctor didn’t really see how he was to endure a repetition of it. He then declared that he must beg of Mr. Newuaan to deny himself for the present the satisfaction of sitting with M. de Bellegarde; more than any one else, apparently, he had the flattering, but inconvenient, privilege of exciting him. M. Ledaux, at this, swallowed a glass of wine in silence; he must have been wondering what the deuce Bellegarde found so exciting in the American.

Newman, after dinner, went up to his room, where he sat for a long time staring at his lighted candle, and thinking that Valentin was dying down - stairs. Late, when the candle had burnt low, there came a soft tap at his door. The doctor stood therewith a candlestick and a shrug.

“ He must amuse himself, still! ” said Valentin’s medical adviser. “ He insists upon seeing you, and I am afraid you must come. I think, at this rate, that he will hardly outlast the night.”

Newman went back to “Valentin’s room, which he found lighted by a taper on the hearth. Valentin begged him to light a candle. “ I want to see your face,” he said. “ They say you excite me,” he went on, as Newman complied with this request, “ and I confess I do feel excited. But it is n’t you — it’s my own thoughts. I have been thinking — thinking. Sit down there, and let me look at you again.” Newman seated himself, folded his arms, and bent a heavy gaze upon his friend, He seemed to be playing a part, mechanically, in a lugubrious comedy. Valentin looked at him for some time. “ Yes, tins morning I was right; you have something on your mind heavier than Valentin de Belleganle. Come, I’m a dying man and it, ’s indecent to deceive me. Something happened after I left Paris. It was not for nothing that my sister started off at this season of the year for Fleurières. Why was it? It sticks in my crop. I have been thinking it over, and if you don’t tell me I shall guess.”

“ I had better not tell you,” said Newman. “ It won’t do you any good.”

“ If you think it will do me any good not to tell me, you are very much mistaken. There is trouble about your marriage. ”

“ Yes,” said Newman. “ There is trouble about my marriage.”

“Good!” And Valentin was silent again. “ They have stopped it.”

“ They have stopped it,” said Newman. Now that he had spoken out, he found a satisfaction in it which deepened as he went on. “ Your mother and brother have broken faith. They have decided that it can’t take place. They have decided that I am not good enough, after all. They have taken back their word. Since you insist, there it is! ”

Valentin gave a sort of groan, lifted his hands a moment, and then let them drop.

“ I am sorry not to have anything better to tell you about them,” Newman pursued. “ But it’s not my fault. I was, indeed, very unhappy when your telegram reached me; I was quite upside down. You may imagine whether I feel any better now.”

Valentin moaned gaspingly, as if his wound were throbbing. “ Broken faith, broken faith! ” he murmured. “And my sister—my sister? ”

“ Your sister is very unhappy; she has consented to give me up. I don’t know why. I don’t know what they have done to her; it must be something pretty bad. In justice to her you ought to know it. They have made her suffer. I have n’t seen her alone, but, only before them! We had an interview yesterday morning. They came out square, in so many words. They told me to go about my business. It seems to me a very bad case. I ’m angry, I ’m sore. I’m sick.”

Valentin lay there staring, with his eyes more brilliantly lighted, his lips soundlessly parted, and a flush of color in his pale face. Newman had never before uttered so many words in the plaintive key, but now, in speaking to Valentin in the poor fellow’s extremity, he had a feeling that he was making his complaint somewhere within the presence of the power that men pray to in trouble; he felt his outgush of resentment as a sort of spiritual privilege.

“ And Claire,” — said Bellegarde, — “ Claire? She has given you up? ”

“ I don’t really believe it,” said Newman.

“No, don’t believe it, don’t believe it. She is gaining time; excuse her.”

“ I pity her! ” said Newman.

“ Poor Claire! ” murmured Valentin. “ But they — but they ” —and he paused again, “You saw them; they dismissed you, face to face ? ”

“ Face to face. They were very explicit.”

“ What did they say? ”

“They said they couldn’t stand a commercial person.”

Valentin put out his hand and laid it upon Newman’s arm. “ And about their promise — their engagement with you ? ’ ’

“ They made a distinction. They said it was to hold good only until Madame de Cintré accepted me.”

Valentin lay staring awhile, and his flush died away. “ Don’t tell me any more.” he said at last; " I’m ashamed.”

“ You ? You are the soul of honor,” said Newman, simply.

Valentin groaned and turned away his head. For some time nothing more was said. Then Valentin turned back again and found a certain force to press Nowman’s arm. “ It’s very bad — very bad. When my people — when my race — come to that, it is time for me to withdraw. I believe in my sister; she will explain. Excuse her. If she can’t — if she can’t, forgive her. She has suffered. But for the others it is very bad —very bad. You take it very hard? No, it’s a shame to make you say so.” He closed his eyes and again there was a silence. Newman felt almost awed; he had evoked a more solemn spirit than he had expected. Presently Valentin looked at him again, removing his hand from his arm. “I apologize,” he said. “ Do you understand? Here on my death-bed. I apologize for my family. For my mother. For my brother. For the ancient house of Bellegarde. Voilà ! ” he added, softly.

Newman for all answer took his hand and pressed it with a world of kindness. Valentin remained quiet, and at the end of half an hour the doctor softly came in. Behind him, through the half-open door, Newman saw the two questioning faces of MM. de Grosjoyaux and Ledaux. The doctor laid his hand on Valentin’s wrist and sat looking at him. He gave no sign and the two gentlemen came in, M. Ledaux having first beckoned to some one outside. This was M. le Curé, who carried in his hand an object unknown to Newman, and covered with a white napkin. M. le Curé was short, round, and red; he advanced, pulling off his little black cap to Newman, and deposited his burden on the table; and then he sat down in the best arm-chair, with his hands folded across his person. The other gentlemen had exchanged glances which expressed unanimity as to the timeliness of their presence. But for a long time Valentin neither spoke nor moved. It was Newman’s belief, afterwards, that M. le Curé went to sleep. At, last, abruptly, Valentin pronounced Newman’s name. His friend went to him, and he said in French, “ You are not alone. I want to speak to you alone.” Newman looked at the doctor, and the doctor looked at the curé, who looked back at him; and then the doctor and the curé, together, gave a shrug. “ Alone

— for five minutes,” Valentin repeated. “ Please leave us.”

The curé took up his burden again and led the way out, followed by his companions. Newman closed the door behind them and came back to Valentin’s bedside. Bellegarde had watched all this intently.

“ It’s very bad, it’s very bad,” he said, after Newman had seated himself close to him. “ The more I think of it the worse it is.”

“ Oh, don’t think of it,” said Newman.

But Valentin went on, without heeding him. “Even if they should come round again, the shame —the baseness — is there.”

“ Oh, they won’t come round! ” said Newman.

“ Well, yon can make them.”

“Make them?”

“ I can tell you something — a great secret — an immense secret. You can use it against them — frighten them, force them.”

“ A secret!" Newman repeated. The idea of letting Valentin, on his deathbed, confide him an “immense secret” shocked him, for the moment, and made him draw back. It seemed an illicit way of arriving at information, and even had a vague analogy with listening at a key-hole. Then, suddenly, the thought of “forcing” Madame de Bellegarde and her son became attractive, and Newman bent his head closer to Valentin’s lips. For some time, however, the dying man said nothing more. He only lay and looked at his friend with his kindled, expanded, troubled eye, and Newman began to believe that he had spoken in delirium. But at last he said, —

“ There was something done — something done at Fleurières. It was foul play. My father — something happened to him. I don’t know; I have been ashamed — afraid to know. But I know there is something. My mother knows — Urbain knows. ”

“ Something happened to your father? ” said Newman, urgently.

Valentin looked at him, still more wide-eyed. " He did n’t get well.”

“ Get well of what? ”

But the immense effort which Valentin had made, first to decide to utter these words and then to bring them out, appeared to have taken his last strength. He lapsed again into silence, and Newman sat watching him. “Do you understand?” he began again, presently. “ At Fleuriéres. You can find out. Mrs. Bread knows. Tell her I begged you to ask her. Then tell them that, and see. It may help you. If not, tell every one. It will—it will ” — here Valentin’s voice sank to the feeblest murmur— “ it will avenge you! ”

The words died away in a long, soft groan. Newman stood up, deeply impressed, not knowing what to say; his heart was beating violently. “Thank you,” he said at last. “I am much obliged.” But Valentin seemed not to hear him; he remained silent, and his silence continued. At last Newman went and opened the door. M. le Curé reëntered, bearing his sacred vessel and followed by the three gentlemen and by Valentin’s servant. It was almost processional.


Valentin de Bellegarde died, tranquilly, just as the cold, faint March dawn began to illumine the faces of the little knot of friends gathered about his bedside. An hour afterwards Newman left the inn and drove to Geneva; he was naturally unwilling to be present at the arrival of Madame de Bellegarde and her first-born. At Geneva, for the moment, he remained. He was like a man who has had a fall, and wants to sit still and count his bruises. He instantly wrote to Madame de Cintr##233;, relating to her the circumstances of her brother’s death — with certain exceptions —and asking her what was the earliest moment at which he might hope that she would consent to see him. M. Ledaux had told him that he had reason to know that Valentin’s will — Bellegarde had a great deal of elegant personal property to dispose of — contained a request that he should be buried near his father in the church-yard of Fleurières, and Newman intended that the state of his own relations with the family should not deprive him of the satisfaction of helping to pay the last earthly honors to the best fellow-in the world. He reflected that Valentin’s friendship was older than Urbain’s enmity, and that at a funeral it was easy to escape notice. Madame de Cintré’s answer to his letter enabled him to time his arrival at Fleurières. This answer was very brief; it ran as follows; —

“ I thank you for your letter, and for your being with Valentin. It is a most inexpressible sorrow to me that I was not. To see you will be nothing but a distress to me; there is no need, therefore, to wait for what you call brighter days. It is all one now, and I shall have no brighter days. Come when you please; only notify me first. My brother is to be buried here on Friday, and my family is to remain here. C. de C.”

As soon as he received this letter Newman went straight to Paris and to Poitiers. The journey took him far southward, through green Tournine and across the far-shining Loire, into a country where the early spring deepened about him as he went. But he had never made a journey during which he heeded less what he would have called the lay of the land. He obtained lodging at the inn at Poitiers, and the next morning drove in a couple of hours to the village of Fleurières. But here, preoccupied as he was, he could not fail to notice the picturesqueness of the place. It was what the French call a petit bourg; it lay at the base of a sort of huge mound on the summit of which stood the crumbling ruins of a feudal castle, much of whose sturdy material, as well as that of the wall which dropped along the hill to inclose the clustered houses defensively, had been absorbed into the very substance of the village. The church was simply the former chapel of the castle, fronting upon its grassgrown court, which, however, was of generous enough width to have given up its quaintest corner to a little graveyard. Here the very head-stones themselves seemed to sleep, as they slanted into the crass; the patient elbow of the rampart held them together on one side, and in front,-far beneath their mossy lids, the green plains and blue distances stretched away. The way to church, up the hill, was impracticable to vehicles. It was lined with peasants, two or three rows deep, who stood watching old Madame de Bellegarde slowdy ascend it, on the arm of her elder son, behind the pallbearers of the other. Newman chose to lurk among the common mourners who murmured “ Madame la Comtesse ” as a tall figure veiled in black passed before him. He stood in the dusky little church while the service was going forward, but at the dismal tomb-side he turned away and walked down the hill. He went back to Poitiers, and spent two days in which patience and impatience were singularly commingled. On the third day he sent Madame de Cintré a note, saying that he would call upon her in the afternoon, and in accordance with this he again took his way to Fleurières. He left his vehicle at the tavern, in the village street, and obeyed the simple instructions which were given him for finding the château.

“It is just beyond there,” said the landlord, and pointed to the tree-tops of the park, above the opposite houses. Newman followed the first cross-road to the right — it was bordered with moldy cottages—and in a few moments saw before him the peaked roofs of the towers. Advancing farther, he found himself before a vast iron gate, rusty and closed; here he paused a moment, looking through the bars. The château was near the road; this was at once its merit and its defect; but its aspect was extremely impressive. Newman learned afterwards, from a guide-book of the province, that it dated from the time of Henry IV. It presented to the wide, paved area which preceded it and which was edged with shabby farm-buildings an immense facade of dark, time-stained brick, flanked by two low wings, each of which terminated in a little Dutchlooking pavilion capped with a fantastic roof. Two towers rose behind, and behind the towers was a mass of elms and beeches, now just faintly green. But the great feature was a wide, green river which washed the foundations of the château. The building rose from an island in the circling stream, so that this formed a perfect moat spanned by a twoarched bridge without a parapet. The dull brick walls, which here and there made a grand, straight sweep, the ugly little cupolas of the wings, the deep-set windows, the long, steep pinnacles of mossy slate, all mirrored themselves in the tranquil river. Newman rang at the gate, and was almost frightened at the tone with which a big rusty bell above His head replied to him. An old woman came out from the gatehouse and opened the creaking portal just wide enough for him to pass, and he went in, across the dry, bare court and the little cracked white slabs of the causeway on the moat. At the door of the château he waited for some moments, and this gave him a chance to observe that Fleurières was not “ kept up,” and to reflect that it was a melancholy place of residence. “It looks,” said Newman to himself — and I give the comparison for what it is worth—“like a Chinese penitentiary.” At last the door was opened by a servant whom he remembered to have seen in the Rue de l'Université. The man’s dull face brightened as he perceived our hero, for Newman, for indefinable reasons, enjoyed the confidence of the liveried gentry. The footman led the way across a great central vestibule, with a pyramid of plants in tubs in the middle and glass doors all round, to what appeared to be the principal d rawing-room of the château. Newman crossed the threshold of a room of superb proportions, which made him feel at first like a tourist with a guide - book and a cicerone awaiting a fee. But when his guide had left him alone, with the observation that he would call Madame la Comtesse, Newman perceived that the salon contained little that was remarkable save a dark ceiling with curiously carved rafters, some curtains of elaborate, antiquated tapestry, and a dark, oaken floor, polished like a mirror. He waited some minutes, walking up and down; but at length, as he turned at the end of the room, he saw that Madame de Cintré had come in by a distant door. She wore a black dress, and she stood looking at him. As the length of the immense room lay between them he had time to look at her before they met in the middle of it.

He was dismayed at the change in her appearance. Pale, heavy-browed, almost haggard, with a sort of monastic rigidity in her dress, she had little but her pure features in common with the woman whose radiant good grace he had hitherto admired. She let her eyes rest on his own, and she let him take her hand; but her eyes looked like two rainy autumn moons, and her grasp was portentously lifeless. “I was at your brother’s funeral,” Newman said. “ Then I waited three days. But I could wait no longer.”

“ Nothing can be lost or gained by waiting,” said Madame de Cintré. “But it was very considerate of you to wait, wronged as you have been.”

“I’m glad you think I have been wronged,” said Newman, with that oddly humorous accent with which he often uttered words of the gravest meaning.

“ Do I need to say so? ” she asked. “ I don’t think I have wronged, seriously, many persons; certainly not consciously. To you, to whom I have done this hard and cruel thing, the only reparation I can make is to say, ' I know it, I feel it! ’ The reparation is pitifully small! ”

“ Oh, it’s a great step forward! ” said Newman, with a large, intensely hopeful laugh. He pushed a chair towards her and bold it. looking at her urgently. She sat down, mechanically, and he seated himself near her; but in a moment he got up, restlessly, and stood before her. She remained seated, like a troubled creature who has passed through the stage of restlessness.

“ I say nothing is to be gained by my seeing you,” she went on, “ and yet I am very glad you came. Now I can tell you what I feel. It is a selfish pleasure, but it is one of the last I shall have.” And she paused, with her great misty eyes fixed upon him. “I know how I have deceived and injured you; I know how cruel and cowardly I have been. I see it as vividly as you do — I feel it to the ends of my fingers.” And she unclasped her hands, which were locked together in her lap, lifted them, and dropped them at her side. “ Anything that you may have said of me in your angriest passion is nothing to what I have said to myself.”

“ In my angriest passion,” said Newman, “ I have said nothing hard of you. The very worst thing I have said of you yet is that you are the loveliest of women.” And he seated himself before her again, abruptly.

She flushed a little, but even her flush was pale. “ That is because you think I will come back. But I will not come back. It is in that hope you have come here, I know; I am very sorry for you.

I would do almost anything for you. To say that, after what I have done, seems simply impudent; but what can I say that will not seem impudent? To wrong you and apologize — that is easy enough.

I should n’t have wronged you.” She stopped a moment, looking at him, and motioned him to let her go on. “ I ought never to have listened to you at first; that was the wrong. No good could come of it. I felt it, and yet I listened; that was your fault, I liked you too much; I believed in you.”

“ And don’t you believe in me now ? ”

“ More than ever. But now it does n’t matter. I have given you up.”

Newman gave a powerful thump with his clenched list upon his knee. “ Why, why, why?” he cried. “Give me a reason — a decent reason. You are not a child — you are not a minor, nor an idiot. You are not obliged to drop me because your mother told you to. Such a reason is n’t worthy of you.”

“ I know that; it’s not worthy of me. But it’s the only one I have to give. After all,” said Madame do Cintré, throwing out her hands, “ think me an idiot and forget me ! That will be the simplest way.”

Newman got up and walked away with a crushing sense that his cause was lost, and yet with an equal inability to give up fighting, He went to one of the great windows, and looked out at the stiffly embanked river and the formal gardens which lay beyond it. When he turned round, Madame de Cintré had risen; she stood there silent and passive. “ You are not frank,” said Newman; “ you are not honest. Instead of saying that you are imbecile, you should say that other people are wicked. Your mother and your brother have been false and cruel; they have been so to me and I am sure they have been so to you. Why do you try to shield them ? Why do you sacrifice me to them? I’m not false; I’m not cruel. You don’t know what you give Up; I can tell you that — you don’t. They bully you and plot about you; and I —I”— And he paused, holding out his hands. She turned away and began to leave him. “ You told me the other day that you were afraid of your mother,” he said, following her. “ What did you mean? ”

Madame de Cintré shook her head. “ I remember; I was sorry afterwards.”

“ You were sorry when she came down and put on the thumb-screws. In God’s name what is it she does to you? ”

“Nothing. Nothing that you can understand. And now that I have given you up, I must not complain of her to you.”

“ That’s no reasoning! ” cried Newman. “ Complain of her, on the contrary. Tell me all about it, frankly and. trustfully, as you ought, and we will talk it over so satisfactorily that you won’t give me up.”

Madame de Cintré looked down some moments, fixedly; and then, raising her eyes, she said, “ One good at least has come of this : I have made you judge me more fairly. You thought of me in a way that did me great honor; I don’t know; why you had taken it into your head. But it left me no loop-hole for escape — no chance to be the common, weak creature I am. It was not my fault; I warned you from the first. But I ought to have warned you more. I ought to have convinced you that I was doomed to disappoint you. But I was, in away, too proud. You see what my superiority amounts to, I hope!” she went on, raising her voice with a tremor which even then and there Newman thought beautiful. “ I am too proud to he honest, I am not too proud to be faithless. I am timid and cold and selfish. I am afraid of being uncomfortable.”

“ And you call marrying me uncomfortable!” said Newman, staring.

Madame de Cintré blushed a little and seemed lo say that if begging his pardon in words was impudent, she might at least thus mutely express her perfect comprehension of his finding her conduct odious. “It is not marrying you; it is doing all that would go with it. It’s the 'rupture, the defiance, the insisting upon being happy in my own way. what right have I to he happy when — when ” — And she paused.

“ When what? ” said Newman.

“ When others have been most unhappy! ”

“What others?” Newman asked. “ What have you to do with any others but me? Besides, you said just now that, you wanted happiness, and that you should find it by obeying your mother. You contradict yourself.”

“ Yes, I contradict myself; that shows you that I am not even intelligent.”

“You are laughing at me!” cried Newman. “ You are mocking me! ”

She looked at him intently, and an observer might have said that she was asking herself whether she might not most quickly end their common pain by confessing that she was mocking him. “ No; I am not,” she presently said.

“ Granting that you are not intelligent,” he went on, “ that you are weak, that you are common, that you are nothing that I have believed you were,— what I ask of you is not a heroic effort, it is a very common effort. There is a great deal on my side to make it easy. The simple truth is that you don’t care enough about me to make it.”

“ I am cold,” said Madame de Cintré. “ I am as cold as that flowing river.”

Newman gave a great rap on the floor with his stick, and a long, grim laugh. “ Good, good! ” he cried. “ You go altogether too far — you overshoot the mark. There isn’t a woman in the world as bad as you would make yourself out. I see your game; it ’s what I said. You are blackening yourself to whiten others. You don’t want to give me up, at all; you like me — you like me. I know you do; you have shown it, and I have felt it. After that, you may be as cold as you please! They have bullied you, I say ; they have tortured you. It’s an outrage, and I insist upon saving you from the excesses of your own generosity. Would you chop off your hand if your mother requested it? ”

Madame de Cintré looked a little frightened. “ I spoke of my mother too blindly, the other day. I am my own mistress, by law and by her approval. She can do nothing to me; she has done nothing. She has never alluded to those hard words I used about her. ”

“ She has made you feel them, I ’ll promise you!” said Newman.

“It’s my conscience that makes me feel them.”

“Your conscience seems to me to be rather mixed! ” exclaimed Newman, passionately.

“It has been in great trouble, but now it is very clear,” said Madame de Cintré. “I don’t give you up for any worldly advantage or for any worldly happiness.”

“ Oh, you don’t give me up for Lord Deepmere, I know,” said Newman. “ I won’t pretend, even to provoke you, that I think that. But that’s what your mother and your brother wanted, and your mother, at that hateful ball of her’s — I liked it at the time, but the very thought of it now makes me rabid — tried to push him on to make up to you.”

“ Who told you this? ” said Madame de Cintré, softly.

“Not Valentin. I observed it. I guessed it. I did n’t know at the time that I was observing it, but it stuck in my memory. And afterwards, you recollect, I saw Lord Deepmere with you in the conservatory. You said then that you would tell me at another time what he had said to you.”

“ That was before — before this,” said Madame de Cintré.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Newman; “ and, besides, I think I know. He ’s an honest little Englishman. He came and told you what your mother was up to — that she wanted him to run me off the track; not being a commercial person. If he would make you an offer she would undertake to bring you round and give me the slip. Lord Deepmere is n’t very intellectual, so she had to spell it out to him. He said he admired you ' no end,’ and that he wanted you to know it; but he did n’t like being mixed up with that Sort of underhand work, and he came to you and told tales. That was about the amount of it, was n’t it? And then you said you were perfectly happy.”

“ I don’t see why we should talk of Lord Deepmere,” said Madame de Cintre. “It was not for that you came here. And about my mother, it does n’t matter what you suspect and what you know. When once my mind has been made up, as it is now, I should not discuss these things. Discussing anything, now, is very idle. We must try and live each as we can. I believe you will be happy again; even, sometimes, when you think of me. When you do so, think this — that it was not easy, and that I did the best I could. I have things to reckon with that you don’t know. I mean I have feelings. I must do as they force me — I must, I must. They would haunt me otherwise,” she cried, with vehemence; “ they would kill me! ”

“ I know what your feelings are: they are superstitions! They are the feeling that, after all, though I am a good fellow I have been in business; the feeling that your mother’s looks are law and your brother’s words are gospel, that you all hang together, and that it’s a part of the everlasting proprieties that they should have a hand in everything you do. It makes my blood boil. That is cold; you are right. And what I feel here,” and Newman struck his heart and became more poetical than he knew, “is a glowing fire! ”

A spectator less preoccupied than Madame de Cintré’s distracted wooer would have felt sure from the first that her appealing calm of manner was the result of violent effort, in spite of which the tide of agitation was rapidly rising. On these last words of Newman’s it overflowed, though at first she spoke low, for fear of her voice betraying her. " ‘ No, I was not right — I am not cold! I believe that if I am doing what seems so bad it is not mere weakness and falseness. Mr. Newman, it’s like a religion. I can’t tell you—I can’t! It’s cruel of you to insist. I don’t see why I should n’t ask you to believe me — and pity me. It’s like a religion. There’s a curse upon the house; I don’t know what — I don’t know why — don’t ask me. We must all bear it. I have been too selfish; I wanted to escape from it. You offered me a great chance — besides my liking you. It seemed good to change completely, to break, to go away. And then I admired you. But I can’t — it has overtaken and come back to me.” Her self-control had now completely abandoned her, and her words were broken with long sobs. “ Why do such dreadful things happen to us — why is my brother Valentin killed, like a beast, in the midst of his youth and his gayety and his brightness, and all that we loved him for? Wily are there things I can’t ask about — that I am afraid to know? Why are there places I can’t look at, sounds I can’t bear? Why is it given to me to choose, to decide, in a case so hard and so terrible as this? I am not meant for that — I am not made for boldness and defiance. I was made to be happy in a quiet, natural way.” At this Newman gave a most expressive groan, but Madame de Cintré went on. “ I was made to do gladly and gratefully what is expected of me. My mother has always been very good to me; that’s all I can say. I must n’t judge her; I must n’t criticise her. If I did, it would come back to me. I can’t change! ”

“No,”said Newman, bitterly; “I must change — if I break in two in the effort! ”

“ You are different. You are a man; you will get over it. Yon have all kinds of consolation. You were born — you were trained to changes. Besides—besides, I shall always think of you.”

“I don’t care for that!” said Newman. “ You are cruel — you are terribly cruel. God forgive you ! You may have the best reasons and the finest feelings in the world; that makes no difference. You are a mystery to me; I don’t see how such hardness can go with such loveliness. ”

Madame de Cintré fixed him a moment with her swimming eyes. “ You believe I am hard, then? ”

Newman answered her look, and then broke out, “ You are a perfect, faultless creature! Stay by me!”

“ Of course I am hard,” she went on. “ Whenever we give pain we are hard. And we must give pain; that’s the world, — the hateful, miserable world. Ah! ” and she gave a long, deep sigli, “ I can’t even say I am glad to have known you. _though I am. That too is to wrong you. I can say nothing that is not cruel. Therefore let. us part, without more of this. Good-by! ” And she put out her hand.

Newman stood and looked at it without taking it, and then raised his eyes to her face. He felt, himself, like shedding tears of rage. “ What are you going to do? ” he asked. “ Where are you going? ’ ’

“ Where I shall give no more pain and suspect no more evil. I am going out of the world.”

“ Out of the world? ”

“ I am going into a convent.”

“ Into a convent! ” Newman repeated the words with the deepest dismay; it was as if she had said she was going into a hospital. “Into a convent — you ! ’’

“ I told you that it was not for my worldly advantage or pleasure I was leaving you.”

But still Newman hardly understood. “ You are going to he a nun,” he went’ on, “ in a cell — for life—with a gown and white veil? ”

“A nun —a Carmelite nun,” said Madame de Cintré. “ For life, with God’s leave.”

The idea struck Newman as too dark and horrible for belief, and made him feel as he would have done if she had told him that she was going to mutilate her beautiful face, or drink some potion that would make her mad. He clasped his hands and began to tremble, visibly.

“Madame de Cintré, don’t, don’t!” he said. “ I beseech you! On my knees, if you like, I ’ll beseech you.”

She laid her hand upon his arm, with a tender, pitying, almost reassuring gesture. “ You don’t understand,” she said. “You have wrong ideas. It’s nothing horrible. It is only peace and safety. It is to be out of the world, where such troubles as this come to the innocent, to the best. And for life — that’s the blessing of it! They can’t begin again.”

Newman dropped into a chair and sat looking at her with a long, inarticulate murmur. That this superb woman, in whom he had seen all human grace and domestic sovereignty, should turn from him and all this compassing brightness that he offered her, — him and his future and his fortune and his fidelity, — to muffle herself in ascetic rags and entomb herself in a convent, was a confounding combination of the inexorable and the grotesque. As the image deepened before him, the grotesque seemed to expand and overspread it; it was a reduction to the absurd of the trial to which he was subjected. “You — you a nun! ” he exclaimed; “ you with your beauty defaced — you behind locks and bars! Never, never, if I can prevent it! ” And he sprang to his feet with a violent laugh.

“ You can’t prevent it,” said Madame de Cintré; “ and it ought— a little — to satisfy you. Do you suppose I will go on living in the world still beside you, and yet not with you ? It is all arranged. Good-by, good-by.”

This time he took her hand, took it in both his own. “Forever?” he said. Her lips made an inaudible movement and his own uttered a deep imprecation. She closed her eyes, as if with the pain of hearing it; then he drew her towards him and clasped her to his breast. He kissed her white face; for an instant she resisted and for a moment she submitted; then, with force, she disengaged herself and hurried away over the-long, shining floor. The next moment the door closed behind her.

Newman made his way out as he could.

Henry James, Jr.